Expectations

Yesterday morning, I IMed George during the day about potentially going to see “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” that evening. We had mentioned it previously, but even I, attendee of opening day Star Wars three times (including one midnight), didn’t feel the obligation to go. I’m not sure many people knew about it, but yes, LucasFilms did release one more Star Wars movie, but without the advertising and hoopla of the other movies. Critics slammed the CG animation. And in the only midnight showing at that theater, the mostly empty theater seemed to reflect a similar enthusiasm. Which I’m kind of confused about. Of the intrepid quintet who at 11:19 decided to go, none didn’t enjoy it.

This movie is not the next Star Wars movie. It’s a movie that happens to be set in the Star Wars universe with a familiar cast. Roger Ebert comments (perhaps complains) that it’s “basically just a 98-minute trailer for the autumn launch of a new series on the Cartoon Network.” Which may be true, but isn’t really a problem when considering the quality of the movie. Feel free to debate whether it was worth the 10.50 for admission, but it entertained.

In the movie, Anakin and Obi-Wan are assigned a mission to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s son who was abducted by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee’s character) and Asajj Ventress (a Sith apprentice) in an attempt to manipulate the Hutts. The plot doesn’t delve deeply into the meaning of fate, or demonstrate the consequences of hubris, but Star Wars, to me, was never about plot. Star Wars presents spectacle, from massive space battles with advanced technology to fantastic abilities of telekinesis and foresight. And to that end, I don’t think the CG animation is a problem; if I’m willing to suspend disbelief for sound in space, I can imagine the Thundercats-like people to be just as real as reality.

Those expecting a Star Wars movie like those before will be disappointed. The series is more similar to the hand-drawn “Star Wars: Clone Wars” cartoons aired on Cartoon Network a few years back. This particular movie actually reminded me even more of “Jackie Chan Adventures.” Just like the new movie (soon to be a TV series), the source material comes from live action movies, yet the new format allows them to do more than reality permits. An addition to the main cast is the movie is Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s new padawan learner. Just like Jade from “Jackie Chan Adventures,” she provides a teenage liveliness that fits so well with the energy of the animation. Besides, the Anakin and Obi-Wan relationship only has so much depth.

I enjoyed the movie because I enjoyed the cartoon before it, yet I feel like some of that also comes from elements that made the live-action movies great (well, at least they made the original trilogy great). Taking a step back from years of extended lore in books, I watched the original trilogy again this past year and was amazed by how ridiculous these movies are. Just like “Indiana Jones,” the action is carefully spliced with humor that borders on outrageousness. Mindless banter between battle droids? A enemy leader who sounds like Sean Connery? Some might say that the inconsistencies ruin the canon of Star Wars. Others might say that George Lucas is continuing the decline of the Star Wars franchise. Who cares? It’s fun.

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